SEATTLE – Among the startling facts that separate Oregon State and Washington this season is this: The Huskies allowed 104 points combined to Oregon and Arizona. The Beavers have allowed 99 points total this season.
Although the two teams will be in the same place tonight when Washington takes on seventh-ranked Oregon State at 7:15 at CenturyLink Field, they are rapidly moving in opposite directions.
The Beavers are in the midst of a charmed season. After going 3-9 last year, Oregon State started the year with a 10-7 upset of then-No. 13 Wisconsin in Corvallis, Ore. The Beavers are 6-0 for the first time since 1907, lead the Pacific-12 Conference in fewest points allowed, and even easily replaced their injured starting quarterback at one point. Cody Vaz took over at QB for Sean Mannion and led the Beavers to two wins after Mannion had minor knee surgery. Mannion is back this week for his first start since being hurt a little less than three weeks ago.
Washington (3-4 overall, 1-3 Pac-12) has lost three in a row. Two of those – the aforementioned Oregon and Arizona games – were emphatic stompings. The Huskies can take solace in this: The Beavers will probably be the last ranked team Washington will face in the regular season and possibly the last with a winning record.
But, that’s for later.
Today, the Huskies will have to deal with getting nickeled and dimed. Oregon State has been effective on first down, allowing it to shift from its base defense into nickel and dime packages in second- and third-and-long situations. Coach Mike Riley has been running the Beavers since 2003 and is playing those defensive packages more this season than any other time.
“They are trying to get more (defensive backs) on the field and putting cornerback (Jordan) Poyer in the slot,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said. “A little more versatility out of their defense that way, especially in the obvious passing downs.”
Poyer is half of a forceful defensive duo for the Beavers. He leads the conference with five interceptions this season. He also has a sack and a forced fumble.
His cohort is defensive lineman Scott Crichton, who has a conference-leading eight sacks, one fewer than Washington’s team total, and is second in the country. Crichton, a sophomore and Tacoma native, came out of Foss High School without a scholarship offer from Washington. Sarkisian has admitted the Huskies simply missed on Crichton.
That is something that the Huskies’ fluctuating offensive line cannot afford to do today. Huskies QB Keith Price has been sacked 21 times this season after being sacked 26 times in 13 games last season.
After another week of mediocre results and nightmarish turnovers against Arizona, Price again vows he’s getting better. He’s fighting mechanical and mental demons.
“He really gets down on himself behind the scenes,” Price’s good friend, wide receiver DiAndre Campbell, said. “I feel like he’s going to bounce back.”
The entire Washington team is in bounce-back mode once again.
NO. 7 OREGON STATE (6-0 OVERALL, 4-0 PACIFIC-12) AT WASHINGTON (3-4, 1-3)
7:15 P.M., CENTURYLINK FIELD, SEATTLE
TV: Pac-12 Networks. Radio: 950-AM, 850-AM, 102.9-FM
THE SERIES: Washington leads the series 58-34-4, having won the 16 of the past 24 meetings and 26 of the past 35, dating back to 1975. The series against the Beavers is the second-longest (to Stanford) active series in Washington football history in terms of years and third-longest in terms of total meetings (to Oregon and Washington State). The teams first met on Dec. 4, 1897, with Oregon State earning a 16-0 home win. That game was Washington’s second-ever against a major college. The next OSU-UW game didn’t come until 1902, a 16-6 UW win. From 1924 to 1964, the annual UW-OSU game was played either at Husky Stadium or Multnomah Stadium (Jeld-Wen Field) in Portland. The Huskies are 33-19-2 all-time against OSU in games played in Seattle.
WHAT TO WATCH: If the offensive line holds up. Just when Washington thinks it has one side of the line fixed the other side falters. Ben Riva is back at full strength this week. Expect him to start with James Atoe on the right side.
WHAT’S AT STAKE: The end of a losing streak for Washington; continued, though distant, national title hopes for Oregon State.
THE PICK: Oregon State, 31-17.
4Sean Mannion (QB)6-5212sophomore
This will be Mannion’s first start in three weeks following his knee surgery.
14Jordan Poyer (CB)6-0190senior
He rivals Desmond Trufant for title of best cornerback in the conference.
95Scott Crichton (DE)6-3263sophomore
Passed over by UW, Foss product Crichton gets a chance to shove it in the Huskies’ faces today.
7Brandin Cooks (WR)5-10179sophomore
Cooks is second in the Pac-12 in receiving yards per game (111.2).
2Markus Wheaton (WR)6-1182senior
Wheaton leads the Beavers in receptions (48) and is third in the conference in that category.
22Josh Shirley (DE)6-3230sophomore
Shirley has made an impact in his limited time on the field. Washington could use his speed today.
6Desmond Trufant (CB)6-0186senior
Another difficult task for the Wilson High product. He will spend his day tracking Cooks and Wheaton.
17Keith Price (QB)6-1202junior
He’s going to remain on this list each week until he gets it together.
7Shaq Thompson (S/LB)6-2 215freshman
Sarkisian said some injuries have been nagging Thompson. See if he is up to speed today.
99Josh Banks (DT)6-2265junior
The junior college transfer is getting more playing time in the middle, where Washington has had problems stopping the firstname.lastname@example.org @Todd_Dybas blog.thenewstribune.com/uwsports email@example.com